Sideline a character

Meanwhile, far away from the intrigue of the Venetian court, Piero was trudging up a dusty road in a remote valley. As he walked, he kicked at the stones in his path and wondered what was going on back home. Would he return to find his brother ennobled, or dead? Would he return, for that matter, to find Venice at war, either besieged by some invading army or divided within itself? He had no way of knowing.
Just as these thoughts were occupying his attention, there came a clatter of  weapons from a sage thicket ahead of him. In an instant, his path was blocked by a ragged-looking group of thieves.
‘You! Rich man!’ the leader shouted. ‘Where are you from?’
‘Venice,’ replied Piero, not quite knowing what else to say. The bandit threw a length of rope at his feet.
‘Bind your hands,’ he said. ‘You won’t be seeing Venice again for a long time.’
As Piero picked up the rope, he wondered how many key events in the unfolding saga he would miss, and how many of those events he would otherwise have been able to influence or even prevent with his unique skills of diplomacy and coercion. Oh well, he thought. It will certainly be more interesting with me out of the way.


  1. Oooh then you can have one of these parallel alternate endings like in French Lieutenant's Woman! :-)

  2. Of course! Why develop real plot conflicts (or *gasp* change your hero) when you can create them artificially by dropping characters into a black hole for a few chapters?

  3. That's not to say that this can't turn out well when done correctly, but it's pretty dang uncommon for it to be done correctly. So it's kinda like the GOTO statement of fiction writing, but not quite as horrible.

  4. A few chapters? I wish! Try sending them to the mysterious north for a book and a half (and still waiting - we believe in you Bran!).

  5. Interesting. When I make a booboo like this my characters don't sum themselves up. That's too tidy. I like to send them on errands and forget to retrieve them. Tacky, tacky.